Angela Nagle has written an interesting post on the “alt-right” in The Irish Times in which she makes a distinction between true-believer white supremacists like Richard Spencer and provocative trolls like Milo Yiannopolous who formerly identified as “cultural libertarians”.
She suggests that it’s hard to makes sense of things without recognising that there are a lot of people who enjoy being transgressive just to “freak the normies” and don’t necessarily believe the nonsense theiy spout. Classic trolls, in other words.
And finally, she notes that the alt-right did not appear in a vacuum, but as a reaction against the excesses of some parts of the moralistic left.
A new generation of liberal left-identitarians display chilling levels of pack pleasure when conducting career-ending, life-destroying hate campaigns against people for minor infringements against the liberal moral code such as off-colour jokes.
But like the US socialist writer Shuja Haider recently argued: “It should go without saying that left-liberal identity politics and Alt-right white nationalism are not comparable. The problem is that they are compatible.” Tumblr needs 4chan just as neo-masculinist misogynists need a perpetual supply of listicles about man-splaining, and the Alt-right needs finger wagging “Dear white people” liberal commentary to denigrate ordinary white people at every opportunity. None of them would make sense without the other. While Spencer’s plans are unlikely to catch on any time soon, the emergence of the Alt-right should warn us of a now imminent nightmare vision of what the coming years might hold – a public arena emptied of any civility, universalist ideas or openly competing political visions beyond a zero-sum tribal antagonism of identity groups, in which the boundaries of acceptable thought will shrink further while the purged will amass in the fetid forums of the Alt-right.
One of my fears for 2017 is that the culture wars that have devastated the worlds of science-fiction fandom and tabletop roleplaying games will come to the world of music. We’ll have performatively woke identity warriors “interrogating” the “whiteness” of metal and progressive rock, racist idiots crawling out from under their rocks to champion prog-rock in response, and it will all spiral down into Gamergate-levels of toxicity. It will become next to impossible to write with any passion about the music itself without getting caught up in politics.
Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.